Monday, April 15, 2013

When God meets you exactly where you are.

We go to a big church. I mean big. I serve in the women's ministry and have written for the church's magazine but other than that, I do not have a personal relationship with our pastor. Not at all.

So it was shocking really that he began a sermon series yesterday that was aimed squarely at my forehead. I mean, really, it was as if he knew exactly what I was struggling with and drew back his bow and fired arrow after arrow of truth.

And though, I jest a little about that, I actually think it is absolutely amazing that as I walked into the sanctuary last night after dropping the kids in their various rooms on the campus, I was wrestling. I had a moment of "I am just not in the mood to sit still tonight. My heart is burdened, my spirit is weary, Wade is working and I HATE being at church alone.... maybe I should just hang out in the courtyard with my thoughts." BUT, there was a nudge in my spirit, a gentle reprimand that that was not the way to go, and so instead I threw up a desperate prayer: "Lord, meet me here. Speak your truth to my heart. Amen."

The first thing I saw when I entered the vestibule: my brother, waiting for me because he knows I hate to sit alone. And I knew, God was already honoring my plea.

When Pastor Jamie Rasmussen introduced his series on Galatians, I was interested. I love delving into the word and dissecting the scriptures. But as he began preaching, he started by defining GOSPEL. Now, I have to tell you that I thought I knew exactly what the word means. But Pastor Jamie said our gospel is whatever we think is the MOST true, MOST important aspect of our lives. For some, he said gospel is self; for others wealth. At this point I am just sort of listening in that cocky way we can do when we feel like the preacher is preaching about someone else's sin. (Please, tell me I am not alone.)

 And then, guess what he listed? Family. Oh. Ouch.

He said living as if our family is the ONLY important influence in our lives is wrong because it can not offer the power that the true Gospel does. Now, he has my full attention.

You can find the sermon here. But the bottom line for me, I know that Jesus saves me. I understand that His Resurrection from the dead means that all my sins can be forgiven. I get that. I understand it. I live with that knowledge gratefully! (And if you don't understand, please email me, I would love to help!)

But I do not always live allowing that power to fill me. I let the worries of the world defeat me more days than not -- especially right now. I carry the weight of worry for my children and husband; I carry the weight of sorrow, grieving the pain my children endure; I carry the weight of real and imagined "loneliness". I am practically bowed over beneath the heaviness of life's day-to-day stressors.

And perhaps, then my family has become my gospel. Because as wonderful as my family is -- the power to persevere does not come from them. I can only find that through the true Gospel; through the power of the ONE who gave me this family, this husband and these amazing kids. Only He can provide the sustenance to move out from under the weight of trying to carry all the struggles that defeat me so that I can live in VICTORY!

Now, please, do not misunderstand. This is not a magic fix. I walked out of the sanctuary with the same stressors in my life and yet, I had been given the reminder that I do not have to carry them alone.

Galatians 1:3-5 says "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

Grace and peace. Letting the peace God offers wash over me. Remembering to live in victory not defeat.

And one day, my friends, because of Jesus, we can live this wonderful verse in Isaiah:

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorry and sighing shall flee away."  Isaiah 35:10

Oh goodness, did you catch that SIGHING shall FLEE!

Isn't that blessing enough to live in victory today?!


K said...

I just want to say that your posts are a blessing in my life. :) Thank you.